I’ll never forget the night we came home, just a few hours after I birthed Zoe. I couldn’t sleep. I mean, would you? I was high on the best adrenaline rush I have ever experienced. Natural birth makes you feel as though you can swim the Atlantic then race across the world twice and after that go out and celebrate. It was a little after three in the morning when we arrived at our house. I managed to finally fall asleep by four, but woke up at six. I leaned over to look at Zoe. She was perfectly still, swaddled so tightly in her yellow blanket, her only movement was the tiny rise and fall of her breathing. My sleeping cherub. Still fresh with the scent of heaven in her hair. I couldn’t resist. I had to have her in my arms. I reached into the bassinet and cradled her next to me.
I know moments fade. These memories will age like postcards bleached in the sun. So I must make every effort to hold off the effects of time. This is the first thing, if not the only thing, others tell you, “It goes quick.” In just 53 days, Zoe will be a year old. Quick is not accurate. Quick is a toddler on a tricycle peddling backwards compared to how fast these 10 months have passed.
In light of this, I do not regret keeping Zoe in my arms just a little too long for proper sleep training methods to be instilled. These are holy moments. Mother and child. All the world is full of hell yet, when I hold my sleeping daughter I feel like the earth was just created, sin-free and innocent. I have forgotten the hourglass and the tolling bell. I sing Zoe’s lullaby and allow myself to be present only in this moment; to absorb every curve and line of her face, to enjoy the weight of her body in my arms and her tiny swallowing noises as she nurses. I must remember this I tell myself as she wraps her chubby starfish hand around my index finger. I must take it all in; I am like a sponge trying to soak up the ocean. I cannot contain this much love.
Too much? Maybe so. Standing on this side of love I now understand. I had no idea love could be this overpowering before I had Zoe. It is the strongest force of emotion I’ve ever known. To paraphrase Ann Lamott, your heart is no longer inside you. Instead my heart is wrapped up in this blanket, sleeping in my arms. I look at my child and I catch my breath a million times a day. I am baptized with wonder.
I remember reading a book where the author believed if our sense of wonder died so would our gratitude and ultimately, our worship to God. It is my habit, as I hold Zoe, in that quiet moment just after she’s fallen asleep, to lean my head down and gently press my lips on her forehead and breathe in deeply and as I breathe out and I whisper thanks to God. Thank you God, thank you God, thank you, thank you so much.